Airline employment has dropped from the summer of 2012 because of job cuts at American Airlines and regional carriers that use smaller planes.

Ups and downs

The 10 largest U.S. airlines by full-time-equivalent employees, and their 1-year change in job numbers as of June. (Two part-time jobs are counted as one full-time job.)

United, 82,498, -0.1%

Delta, 74,546, -3.9%.

American, 59,163, -8.4%.

Southwest, 45,216, -2%.

US Airways, 31,020, +2.1%

JetBlue, 13,029, +2.7%

American Eagle, 11,166, +13.5%

Alaska Air, 9,564, +3.7%

SkyWest, 9,422, + 0.2%.

ExpressJet, 8,998, -4.5%

Note: American and American Eagle are owned by AMR Corp.; Southwest figures include AirTran; ExpressJet is a SkyWest subsidiary.


The U.S. Department of Transportation said last week that airlines employed the equivalent of 381,441 workers in June, down 2.4 percent from the same month last year. It’s the 10th straight month of decline compared with a year earlier.

DOT said that American cut about 5,400 jobs, or 8.4 percent of its workforce, as it slashed costs during bankruptcy. American had the equivalent of 59,163 full-time workers in June.

American parent AMR Corp., which is trying to merge with US Airways, has recently returned to profitability. This week it reported a record one-month adjusted profit of $352 million for July. The airline plans to hire 1,500 entry-level flight attendants to replace some of the roughly 2,200 experienced ones who took severance offers to leave last year.

While American cut jobs, its American Eagle regional subsidiary added about 1,300 jobs or 13.5 percent. But most regional carriers, which contract with bigger airlines to operate short-haul flights under brands such as United Express and Delta Connection, reduced jobs as high fuel costs made many 50-seat jets too expensive to fly.

Regional airlines cut jobs by 4.4 percent from last year. ExpressJet, Pinnacle, Horizon Air and Mesa all cut jobs; SkyWest added fewer than two dozen.

A few low-cost airlines added jobs, including Spirit, Allegiant and JetBlue, but they have small work forces. Spirit grew 22.7 percent to 3,400 full-time jobs. The largest low-cost carrier, Southwest Airlines cut 2 percent to 45,216.

United, the world’s largest airline, had the equivalent of 82,498 full-time workers in June, down 0.1 percent in 12 months. No. 2 Delta had 74,546 employees, down 3.9 percent.

To calculate airline employment, the Transportation Department counts two part-time jobs as one full-time position.